SEVERE WX : Flash Flood Watch - Wind Advisory View Alerts
CLOSINGS: View Closings

Lunar trifecta: Rare 'super blue blood moon' will light the sky this week

Chances are you have used the phrase "once in a blue moon" -- but have you ever wondered where it came from?

Posted: Jan 29, 2018 12:32 PM
Updated: Jan 29, 2018 12:34 PM

(CNN) -- Set your alarms, space fans -- if you can drag yourself out of bed on Wednesday, you're in for a treat.

The pre-dawn hours of January 31 will play host to an incredibly rare celestial convergence -- a "super blue blood moon."

To prepare you for the lunar triple whammy, here's your all-you-need-to-know guide.

What is a 'super blue blood moon'?

It may sound like the apocalypse is nigh, so let's break it down by its three parts: "super," "blue" and "blood."

So, a "supermoon" is when a full moon occurs at the same time as its perigee, the closest point of the moon's orbit with Earth. The result: the moon appears larger than normal and NASA is predicting this one will be 14% brighter than usual.

Chances are you have used the phrase "once in a blue moon" -- but have you ever wondered where it came from? The well-known idiom actually refers to the rare instance when there is a second full moon in a calendar month. The first supermoon of 2018 -- which took place on New Year's Day -- was previously described by NASA as the "biggest and brightest" one expected for the entire year.

Then completing this "lunar trifecta" is the "blood" element. Although it does not have a scientific definition, a "blood moon" occurs during a lunar eclipse when faint red sunbeams peek out around the edges of the moon, giving it a reddish, copper color.

Where can I see it?

Eager stargazers living in North America, Alaska or Hawaii will be able to see the eclipse before sunrise on Wednesday, according to NASA. For those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand, the "super blue blood moon" will be visible during moonrise on the morning of January 31.

As long as the weather doesn't try to ruin things, observers in Alaska, Australia, eastern Asia and Hawaii will be experience the whole phenomenon from start to finish.

For those living in the US, NASA says the best spots to watch the entire celestial show will be in California and western Canada.

"Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish," said George Johnston, lunar blogger at NASA, in a press statement. "Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the eastern time zone. The eclipse begins at 5.51 a.m. ET, as the moon is about to set in the western sky, and the sky is getting lighter in the east."

For observers living in New York or Washington D.C., the space agency suggests a 6.45 a.m. ET start for the best viewing.

"Your best opportunity if you live in the east is to head outside about 6.45 a.m. and get to a high place to watch the start of the eclipse," Johnston said. "Make sure you have a clear line of sight to the horizon in the west, opposite from where the sun will rise."

Where the moon is covered by the Earth's shadow, known as the period of totality, it will last just over one and a quarter hours, according to EarthSky. And unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is perfectly safe to watch in the night with the naked eye.

And fear not luna-tic's, Virtual Telescope will be streaming the event live for those of you unable to view it up close.

There are usually a couple of lunar eclipses each year so if you do miss it this time around, the next one will happen on July 27 -- though it won't be visible in North America. It'll be a long wait for skywatchers in the US as Johnston predicts the next visible lunar eclipse will be on January 21, 2019.

Be sure to take your favorite pictures and tag #CNNSpace for a chance to be featured.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Huntsville
Few Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 72°
Florence
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 71°
Fayetteville
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Scottsboro
Overcast
75° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 75°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 160380

Reported Deaths: 2713
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23573377
Mobile16994316
Tuscaloosa10462140
Montgomery10352198
Madison942298
Shelby750465
Baldwin671269
Lee657165
Calhoun464761
Marshall442651
Etowah434151
Morgan422335
Houston419334
DeKalb349228
Elmore324653
St. Clair304042
Limestone293631
Walker283793
Talladega271437
Cullman255725
Lauderdale233842
Jackson219417
Autauga208231
Franklin206432
Colbert206032
Blount197225
Russell19603
Chilton190432
Dallas188127
Coffee180711
Dale178952
Covington175929
Escambia174931
Chambers136847
Clarke136617
Pike134514
Tallapoosa133987
Marion110331
Barbour10429
Marengo102622
Butler101241
Winston94013
Geneva9217
Lawrence86933
Pickens86918
Bibb85015
Randolph83516
Hale77730
Cherokee75614
Clay75312
Washington75112
Henry7236
Lowndes71628
Monroe65510
Bullock65017
Crenshaw60930
Perry5956
Fayette58913
Cleburne5739
Wilcox57012
Conecuh56513
Macon53920
Lamar5085
Sumter47421
Choctaw39312
Greene34616
Coosa2093
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 251774

Reported Deaths: 3207
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby36855568
Davidson32175341
Knox1295692
Rutherford12143115
Hamilton11952110
Williamson723556
Sumner6230112
Wilson478560
Putnam449957
Montgomery427558
Out of TN417134
Madison385180
Sullivan384648
Bradley364123
Washington361553
Sevier340823
Maury340738
Blount340436
Robertson264044
Hamblen249548
Tipton240623
Unassigned23306
Dyer228535
Gibson219249
Coffee194326
Hardeman190933
Greene182154
Obion181123
Trousdale17778
Bedford175320
Anderson172714
Dickson172219
Fayette170825
McMinn167337
Lawrence166520
Loudon165311
Cumberland162327
Wayne16067
Carter159834
Weakley157926
Jefferson157522
Monroe148629
Warren146110
Lauderdale145117
Henderson142626
Hardin141622
Macon135725
Roane13467
Franklin130522
Haywood130528
Hawkins123225
Overton123218
White120014
Johnson11667
Carroll115826
Marshall115611
McNairy114428
Rhea113018
Cocke109714
Cheatham107912
Campbell104412
Bledsoe10264
Smith100514
Lake9883
Giles98636
Fentress92611
Lincoln9253
Crockett87620
Hickman81015
Henry80912
Marion79410
DeKalb75117
Chester73515
Decatur66711
Grainger6174
Grundy57811
Union5493
Claiborne5346
Polk52713
Jackson4596
Humphreys4574
Unicoi4453
Morgan4447
Cannon4272
Benton4269
Houston42517
Lewis4225
Clay41015
Scott3945
Sequatchie3572
Stewart33811
Meigs3306
Perry3295
Pickett2769
Moore2712
Van Buren2102
Hancock1213

Community Events